V-L prelude 4 - " -A Real Controversy" - thread from other forum)

Analyses of individual works for Classical Guitar and general discussions on analysis. Normal forum copyright rules apply.
User avatar
Posts: 634
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:48 pm

V-L prelude 4 - " -A Real Controversy" - thread from other forum)

Postby guitareleven » Sat Aug 22, 2015 5:26 am

I thought I'd add to the inception of this analysis forum by submitting something for consideration that I actually did several years ago in another (that other guitar) newsgroup (with some slight recent editing)- so it's possible some here have already seen it. But I thought it worthwhile because this analysis was not set out upon with the aim of explaining the whole piece, or a dissection of its parts in accordance to the accepted codifications of theory. It was precipitated by an inquiry as to one particular, even small, point just about the end of the piece. And yet I found that I could not respond to the inquiry without subjecting the whole piece to examination, and the answer I came up with did have to do with that ending's relationship back to the entire body of the piece. There's something almost sort of fractal about it. Maybe that's the mark of a masterpiece by a major composer.

Also, my methodology was exemplary of what "stevel", and maybe others, here have suggested, that analysis is best predicated first upon listening, and using theoretical language in order to articulate what one hears, rather than arrive at a paper-driven prescription of what one should be hearing.

The piece in question is Villa-Lobos' fourth prelude, and the question posed concerned the very last chord -- as to whether it actually should have a G in the bass as indicated in the score, or was that a printing or manuscript error, and is it "supposed" actually to be an E? ( the piece is prevailingly in E minor).

So, what I've included below is much of the discussion that occurred on that newsgroup. It is interesting, because both options had people expressing favor for them, or divided opinions, and for various reasons -- simple preference, evidence (on both sides!) suggesting historical manuscript authority, and theoretically driven conclusions (again, on both sides!). Except for the aftermath of a couple of people who found, or seemed to find what I said credible, the discussion didn't continue after what I submitted, so I don't know what most people thought of it.

Now, this what I suggest here. Go ahead and read it if you like, but for those of you inclined, think about it yourself, and come up with your own answer first....
(edit: This will turn out to be made convenient, because in trying to submit this, I've just now encountered a character limitation- and so I will divide this in two, with the second post consisting of my submission) ...

...Is the question answerable on simple terms, or are there complexities involved? And, once you do read what I came up with, do you think my response complex, or ultimately, simple? Did I go overboard? Is any such answer "right"?

BTW, the other forum is a public one, so there isn't much of an expection of privacy as to anyone who contributed to it, but neither did they necessarilly thereby consent to having their identities bandied about on other boards, so, except for my own (JonLorPro, from my e-mail address), I've rendered the various contributors' identities into initials. I don't think anyone would actually have been offended otherwise, so maybe I'm overly cautious- but it just felt more courteous to do so.

Posts are separated by the:

mine follows the:


A Real Controversy

A. S. Jun 30 2008, 12:55 am
Yes, we've had a lot of controversy here in the last few weeks and some people feel it's too much, that it's shaken up the community in an unhealthy way. So, I have been hesitating to post about something that may provoke some people a lot more than 9/11, or for that matter, any other topic we've had yet, but I feel it's something we need to deal with if we are to continue as a viable NG.
Does the final chord in Prelude #4 by Villa-Lobos have a -G- in the bass as written, or is that a mistake and the correct note is actually -E-?
J. N.
Jun 30 2008, 1:03 am
I'm partial to the E. the G, as written, feels as if I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. My teacher is very liberal about this to the effect "If you enjoy it that way, then just do it." I like him :-)
Mon, 30 Jun 2008 05:29:13 -0700
I have a manuscript that one of the Blain brothers gave me that is in the hand of a copyist. Who made the copy, I don't know. R. Blain told me that VL gave it to him when VL was at Columbia doing a lecture . It is from the 1940s before the piece was published by Eschig. It ends with an E in the bass tied to the previous E.

D. S.
Jun 30 2008, 11:24 am
The recently published 2007 Eschig edition of the 5 Preludes edited by Fredric Zigante has it as a G not an E. I like the G. All available sources were consulted for this new edition of the Preludes. I highly recommend it and the Carlevaro books on the Etudes and Preludes.


A. S.
Jun 30 2008, 11:38 am

On Jun 30, 12:24 pm, "D. S." wrote:
> The recently published 2007 Eschig edition of the 5 Preludes edited by
> Fredric Zigante has it as a G not an E. I like the G. All available sources
> were consulted for this new edition of the Preludes. I highly recommend it
> and the Carlevaro books on the Etudes and Preludes.

Thanks D-

This is one of those interesting moments in music, and since AG mentioned it some time ago here, saying it was a mistake and should be -E-, I've been asking various people, players & composers. The answers are mixed. Some, like Fred Hand think the -G- is more interesting, as obviously does Zigante, etc.

I prefer -E-.

Jun 30 2008, 12:31 pm

D, Frédéric Zigante works with the criteria of a musicologist: his aim is to prepare a text after an accurate comparison of all the available, reliable sources, and none of them shows an E. When expressing my opinion, I was not concerned as a musicologist with the publication of a text, but as a musician who should read the same text in view of practical performance: the question had been formulated by S. Y., who - if I correctly remember - preferred an E. As a reader, I joined his view. If I had to prepare the text for publication, I would have left the G.



A. S.
Jun 30 2008, 1:32 pm

I find it to be a very interesting situation. The solution M has suggested based on the copy given to him, with the tied -E-, really feels most "right" to me. But there is a quality to the -G- that is maybe a little more interesting, although that may be so because we are so used to it.

Wouldn't it be nice if the original MS. is found.


Jun 30 2008, 7:22 pm

On Jun 30, 6:59 pm, M wrote:
> Hi A,
> I don't exactly how to finger this because I change my mind often
> with these kind of things, according to my nails, strings, guitar. It
> is an easy thing to change without creating confusion and error (as
> the saying goes)

> The manuscript I have is old and made by a very skilled copyist. The
> least thing one can say is the "real controversy" is also and old
> controversy.

I like the upper -E- on the 5th string. And I think the tie is just right.

Any background on how far back this has been talked/written about? I confess it was AG's comments in the previous thread that brought it to my attention; I'd never doubted the -G- and didn't know it had long been considered controversial.

On the other hand, this explains why Alan Lewis would get so angry when he occasionally walked by (usually to grab a chocolate covered strawberry or two) when I was playing the end of the piece; he'd scream "E! E!!". Now I know why.


D. R. A.
Jul 1 2008, 9:00 am

On Sun, 29 Jun 2008 22:55:41 -0700, A. S. wrote:
> Yes, we've had a lot of controversy here in the last few weeks and some
> people feel it's too much, that it's shaken up the community in an
> unhealthy way. So, I have been hesitating to post about something that
> may provoke some people a lot more than 9/11, or for that matter, any
> other topic we've had yet, but I feel it's something we need to deal
> with if we are to continue as a viable NG.

> Does the final chord in Prelude #4 by Villa-Lobos have a -G- in the bass
> as written, or is that a mistake and the correct note is actually -E-?

> Discuss.

> A.

It is not a mistake. The lowest note in the chord immediately preceding is d. The e preceding that is an octave higher than in previous instances, because of the sustaining low e, which means that the harmonic e is played on the 5th string instead of the 6th and thus sounds an octave higher.

Put a bit more dynamic emphasis on the d and you will hear the logic of it much better. d. A.


A. S.

Jul 1 2008, 11:11 am

On Jul 1, 10:00 am, D.R. A. wrote:
> It is not a mistake. The lowest note in the chord immediately
> preceding is d. The e preceding that is an octave higher than
> in previous instances, because of the sustaining low e, which
> means that the harmonic e is played on the 5th string instead of the 6th
> and thus sounds an octave higher.

> Put a bit more dynamic emphasis on the d and you will hear the
> logic of it much better. d. A.

OK, interesting point, makes sense.

How is this then, the piece is in G, not Em.


D. R. A.
Jul 1 2008, 2:54 pm

Who says you have to end on a root position chord? This is in D but ends on Bm, for a completely different reason than in the HVL:


There are other possible reasons for ending on an inversion. Do you say that a piece ending on a Picardy 3rd was major all the time?

The low e does not persist in actuality but it does in memory. You could sustain the low e on one of those extra strings you have.

See Carcassi Op. 59 part III #25. It is a challenge to thumb the ostinato a's softly enough, but overall this is a very easy piece. The f and p at the end are explicit. If you add the low a to the final chord it sounds all grumbly. If you play the end piano enough, it's better as written. If you ignore the dynamics, expressed and implied, it doesn't sound like anything anyway.

I think it is a sort of pseudocadential feeling that HVL wanted at the end, but extreme diminuendo would be another possible rationale for the g bass. One rationale suffices, since HVL wrote what he wrote.

A few minutes of effort to make it sound right as written is worth a thousand hours of trying to rewrite it, and even if you do end in rewriting it, the result will be a million times better if you do the few minutes first. d. A.


A. S.

Jul 1 2008, 6:36 pm

On Jul 1, 3:54 pm, D. R. A. wrote:
> > How is this then, the piece is in G, not Em.

> > A.

> Who says you have to end on a root position chord?

Anyone think this piece is in G, not Em?



A. R.
Jul 1 2008, 7:59 pm

Well ... I think it's an E minor piece that end on a Gmajor add6th chord.



J. N.
Jul 1 2008, 9:03 pm

> Anyone think this piece is in G, not Em?

> A.

In the Eschig edition, at least in mine, there is a tie from the low E in the second last measure to nowhere! Could that be to the low E in the last chord? The chord in the 2nd last measure clearly an Em6, so it would make sense to the last chord to be Em6 for me. But I think this guy HVL was really a troublemaker!

J. the thoroughly confused %(


A. R.

Jul 1 2008, 9:20 pm

Em6 would be with a C# ... you probably mean Em7 (with the D)



J. N.

Jul 1 2008, 10:24 pm

> Em6 would be with a C# ... you probably mean Em7 (with the D)

> A.

Yeah, that too! :-)
Last edited by guitareleven on Sat Aug 22, 2015 5:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Posts: 634
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:48 pm

Re: V-L prelude 4 - " -A Real Controversy" - thread from other forum)

Postby guitareleven » Sat Aug 22, 2015 5:30 am

(V-L prelude #4 cont.)



Jul 2 2008, 9:50 am

On Jun 30, 1:55 am, A. S. wrote:

> ...Does the final chord in Prelude #4 by Villa-Lobos have a -G- in the
> bass as written, or is that a mistake and the correct note is actually
> -E-?

> Discuss.

> A.

Jun 17, 6:30 pm (in planting thread)

>Speaking of V-L Prelude #4...
>What's the JonLorPro opinion, -G- or -E-?..

I apologize for not having answered your direct inquiry sooner- I really didn't intend to ignore it, but "molto distracto" has been the dynamic of my existence lately. Plus you know my predilection- I found it to be an interesting question worthy of a non-trivial response, the ending is about more than just the ending. So here's what I got down over a few days when I could get to it.

Maybe an assiduous examination of original sources could determine whether the G might either be characterized as a mistaken E or confirmed as what was intended, but that to me is less interesting and less to be looked to for guidance than is consideration of what the actual compositional implications and fulfillments are in either case. If the G is a mistake in printing, then it is fortuitous; if a manuscript error, then perhaps the muse stepped in and guided the human hand as it was about to falter. I really like that G.

There are several things I hear going on that make it sound compelling to me.
These have to do with:

1) use of sonority as a device
2) Harmonic motion
3) contrapuntal motion (as seperate from harmonic motion, and as basic
horizontal structure, not in the sense of Baroque texture)
4) extra-theoretical connotations

The inversion of E effected by the G does hearken back to the precedent of earlier sonorities in the piece which are dwelled upon at similarly significant points. After the reiterated opening, subsequent phrases land on notes that immediately after they are sounded are re-oriented as components of sixths, and the arpeggio sweeping upwards from E that brings the forward momentum of the middle section to a halt is potentially snggestive of a deceptive cadence onto C (a sixth above E), until the C resolves.

But of course, any piece is likely to have inverted chords and their appurtenant sixth sonorities in the middle of the composition, where stuff is still moving around. Doesn't mean you end on them (unless you're either a Baroque guitarist and have no choice, or you're Schumann). By itself thats not enough, so table that suggestion for now. Maybe there's more going on.

D. R. A. suggested a while back that the G is precipitated as a "final" by its fifth relationship with the preceding D harmonic, which would act, of course, as dominant to the G. This impression can be "helped along" by giving the D some gently overriding emphasis, maybe just on it's last sounding, using the thumb What that relationship suggests, though, is unclear. The overarching harmonic statement in what has been the apparent key of the piece has alleady been completed with the cadential dominant to tonic descent from B to E on the sixth string, which has only just occurred. Its quite a stretch to assert that the fundamental is anything other than that still resonating low E, the bass of a conclusive final chord within which these last events take place. D.'s proposed theoretical alternative would be that as the low E fades, the harmonic D, simply by virtue of its reiteration as a lower tone than the harmonic E which immediately precedes it, abandons its status as a coloristic upper chord tone dissonance and assumes a structural potential which is then validated by a final chord with G in the bass. It's as if an elision, or contraction of progression has occurred in which what is revealed in retrospect to have been a cadential 6/4 goes directly to the final chord, skipping over the dominant that should normally have come between.

So try this experiment- after the last of the harmonics on the twelfth fret, before the last chord, insert an extra beat in which are softly and simultaneously sounded an F# and A on the 3rd and 2nd strings. Then play the last chord, in the G bass version. There, has been actualized, the suggested cadence from D to G. Its the typical movement from minor to relative major via the chord on the "natural" seventh, and the last chord is definitely transformed from an inverted minor 7th to a major with an added sixth.

Does that explanation sound right? Maybe not to a sufficiency. By itself as explanation it's as though suddenly the entire piece is "about" the progression I (minor) -Vof III- III, in which the "I-" portion of the statement has compacted into it 99% of the piece while the last two chords are made to stand as equivalent in structural stature. That experimental insertion of those two notes does clearly define the culmination on that last chord on G - but somehow in that very clarity something has been lost. The realization in concrete form of that potential has been the act of creation in which something more is destroyed.

But almost the same might be said of ending on the chord some say V-L purportedly intended, with an E in the bass. Yes, in nearing the end that does seem a very likely chord to be approached, and so it lands there. Piece is done. How nice. But that also seems too definite- too clear- the chord is a redundancy to the cadence which already has concluded with the previous open E, it's a re-sounding which is there for the sake of rhythmic obligation only, an absorption of momentum just to get the thing ended.

If, then, a motion to G is considered, I think DRA is right about it being lent potency by that D harmonic, but it is not so much that the D precipitates a new cadence, its more that an organic connection between E and G harmonies along the relative minor-major axis has been effected without the formal dance steps. In a milieu so laced with coloristic devices like all manner of non-dominant sevenths, mixture of chromaticized harmonies with pedals, etc. there is a sonic gooeyness which easily permits the morphing of a minor seventh into its relative major sixth chord.

But this description, which goes only to the operative connections in the tissue local to the moment, is insufficient. If thats all there is to it, it seems a flippant "deus ex machina" tacked on at the end, as though Villa-Lobos suddenly switched horses just as he was about to reach the other side of the stream. For it to be convincing requires there to be a culmination of some process inherent to the whole piece to which the G bass chord provides a satisfactory, perhaps inexorable end.

So far the only suggestion I've made of anything happening throughout the piece that is of relevence to the ending has been mention of the earlier sixth sonorities to which this conclusion hearkens back in reference. This begins at the end of the third phrase with the chord on the phrase's concluding A. The first opening phrase, and the second, a repetition of the first, are just plain statements outlining the tonic E minor, with emphasis placed on the last destination E by the double neighbor figurations at the end of the phrase. Save for these neighboring tones, these first two phrases would simply be descending arpeggios targeting the tonic.

From that established ground, the next phrase commences with the melodic descent from F# to B (Note the descent of a fifth), its passing through D perhaps suggesting that from that first outlined tonic, motion has taken place to the minor V, of which the root, B, itself then becomes part of a double neighbor figure like that with which the opening phrase ends, this time surrounding A, the sub-dominant. However, whereas the opening phrase delivers one on to solid ground, the earth moves under ones feet once landed on the A. If a replication and continuation of the opening phrase's solidity were intended, the chord sounded after the A would have confirmed the subdominant harmony. Had it done so it wouldn't sound unlikely. Try it. Play from the beginning up to that chord, and instead of an F in the chord, play an E, or just leave it out. Its plausible, acceptable, the clash between the C and the pedal B is interesting, but its pretty basic. Not quite as interesting.

Of course, what actually happens is that as soon as the B-G neighbor figuration has delivered us to A, the anticipated harmonic context is immediately upended into an inversion with the presence of the sixth above A. And not a diatonic inversion- the F natural in this chord is a chromaticism that conflicts with the diatonic F# with which the phrase began- the chord is not the supportive echo like that which responded to the first phrase. That also could have been done. Try another experiment- play from the beginning up to this chord, but play an F# in it instead of the F natural. Like the first experiment, this too is easy for the ear to follow. The F# presents little challenge to expectations, the chord in its diatonicism is readily accepted as substitute for, or even just a coloring up of the sub-dominant chord; the sense of a shift in the context within which the A lies is nowhere near as strong.

Instead, what we we get is this dark neopolitan murkiness, in which the minor sixth context between the A and the F natural, by its conflict with the diatonic milieu draws attention to itself as an event. The tension thereby introduced imbues the ensuing events with forward motion and is replicated in the phrases that follow; the A-F sixth sonority is carried forward by the next phrase to the F-D sixth (the lowest tone of which is also targeted with the double neighbor figuration), and then again via the parallelism found so often in Villa-Lobos to the F#-D# which precedes the cadence of this section back to E minor.

Positing that a conclusion is then realized in the final chord to the piece with G in the bass, is not predicated simply upon its recalling of these earlier sonorities out of the coincidental resemblance it bears to each individually; the G-E interval it contains is actually the culmination of a coherent horizontal statement that they express in series, a motion that had been deferred in coming to that conclusion the first time by the interruption of the middle section of the piece. The piece's ending cadence onto the E minor chord near the end, referred to before, ends the piece harmonically, but not contrapuntally.

Taking the sonorities into which the phrases of this section deliver themselves as points of structural significance, a reduction can be proposed and played as follows:

-- from an octave E (open sixth string with E on the fifth) representing the beginning phrase;
-- the B-F# fifth with which the third phrase outlines the harmonic motion away from the tonic, followed by;
-- the A-F natural on the sixth and fourth strings;
-- the sixth and fourth strings F-D, and then;
-- the F#-D#

This is the progress of the first section up to the point of the harmonic cadence on E minor- after which everything is then exploded by the interruption of the middle section, after which things are quietly resumed. So try playing it just that way- move slowly and steadily through the interval pairs: E-E ; B-F#; A-F natural ; F-D ; F#-D# - then pause- and start again: E-E ; B-F# ; A-F natura l; F-D ; F#-D# ; but then continue to, and end, on G-E. There. Thats the organization of the piece.

The tendency of the lower tone towards G is driven by continuance to resolution in the direction of chromatic inflection, and by the parallelism typical of Villa-Lobos, and by motive. The lower tone F of the sixth pair F-D, as a transfer from the upper of F of the previous pair A-F, is deflected away from what would be the typical motion of a neopolitan lowered supertonic (motion downwards over the curious interval of a diminished third, to surround the tonic with half steps on either side; an example of this would be in m.s 29-32 of Sor op. 35 #22, Sor/Seg V). Instead it is induced to resolve upwards to the supertonic restored to its diatonic position. Rather than countermanding this upward impulse, the continued direction of contrapuntal (not harmonic!) motion is to the G.

This is supported by the texture of parallelism that has been endemic; the conclusion of the conglomeration of sixths conjoined in similar motion is directed to the pair G-E. In fact, this association between the F#-D# and G-E sixths has been presaged in the middle section, at about the halfway point where begins the second round of parallelism after the descent to the low E. The lower tones of the first two sonorities after the low E are the pairs F-D and F#-D#. This last is given a mini-expansion in which it is dwelt upon, with the D# held in place while the bass moves upwards to the open A, before moving on to the G-E of the next chord. The sweep of chords that follows seems then to be in gestures which take flight from points of punctuation in the juxtaposion of these two chords.

Finally, this movement to G-E is motivic. Understanding the upward resolving F-D as lower neighbors appurtenant to the F#-D#, the reduction can be reduced still further by leaving them out. Starting with the A-F then, this leaves us with A-F ; F#-D# ; G-E. This is a development of the double neighbor configuration which has been a motive from the very beginning of the piece- the very first notes not of the harmonic context in which they are heard are the F# and D of this figure, which becomes a motive used in subsequent phrases. Try another experiment- play the opening phrase up through the F#; D; E figure, then play the reduction pairs A-F; F#-D#; G-E. The amplification of the motive by added texture and closer chromaticism is apparent.

Also, with the excision of the subsidiary F-D, the typical neopolitan lowered supertonic to leading tone motion is explicitly realized. One more thing about the neighbor note figure as motif, is that in the "mini-expansion" in the mid-section referred to above, the G is approached via the same device- this time in reverse order since it is approached from below. This slight dwelling upon the F#-D# chord is deliberate; it heightens the significance of its motion then to the G-E which follows. It is not simply an opportunistic utilization of the open A to avoid having to move the hand.

So, unless this is all just byzantine b-s, the G bass chord is convincing. But is it therefore compelling? So far are described the mechanisms, whereby the last chord is handed forth from the body of the piece at the end- what about the artistic statement? Does it "succeed"?

Perhaps a better answer would be expressed not in overwrought theory, but in terms of theatre- which is admittedly a much more fanciful and subjective realm. I can't think of many pieces in which silence is a more significant element than this one (except maybe Cages 4'33")- a silence pregnant with unformed potentiality, palpable just beyond the pale of that scattered network of just a few notes, which holds back the surface tension of that silence. The opening phrase respondent chords in harmonics are like the movie mystery device of the distant dripping faucet in an uninhabited space, a sound which by the very diminutive nature of its presence stresses the enormity of the silence in which it occurs. This silence is paradoxically made even more of an element by the very fact of its having been obliterated in the middle section, only then to return, having abided patiently for that energy to exhaust itself.

The salient characteristic of silence is that it is indefinite in its potential, the absolute polarity between that quality and one of stark kinetic definition then becomes transmuted into an element of contrast between sounded events. The opening (repeated) phrase is nothing but itself, a plain assertive statement uttered into the void; its chordal echo carrying only a hint of softened reverberant difusion with its added seventh. In comparison, the very next phrase, and even more the echo that it receives, have myriad connotations.

Again, in the middle section, broadly divisable in two; the first half is bright with movement along the upper strings in chords that are not difficult to parse in their intent, but the second half is disposed to the dark murk of the lower strings in sonorities laced with the obfuscation of closely juxtaposed, sometimes simultaneous sounding of conflicting chromatic values, a white water rush in which ones only aural raft is the recognizable configuration of the chord being swept forward.

The direction of this contrast, between clear definition and opacity, is back towards the ultimate diffusion of silence. The harmonic and contrapuntal motions are not coincident in their conclusions, the aural entity of the last chord is organically appurtenant to the key, but is it inverted E? Or does the tenuous empowerment of the D as fifth make it G? The answer to either proposition is neither yes nor no, but mu, it's as definite as a melting ball of wax. This potentiality remains after the chord is gone, the piece has finished its statement, but it hasn't ended so much as receded. The silence at the end is affected by that which it has just enveloped, the silence is now part of the piece itself. This is why in an effective performance, more so than with many other pieces, discerning audiences know by instinct not to applaud right away, not to intrude on the still ongoing closure of hush to final absence.

And, it is this ending to which either a too definite E chord, or a too clearly cadenced G chord, is inimicable. It is also an ending which leads me to question the forte indication under that last chord. It's in the score, so one accordingly does hear some performances in which the player dutifully accedes to and realizes that dynamic, with the chord abrubtly and forcefully sounded. In the case of this dynamic marking, it's a much tougher proposition to suggest that this is either a printing error or a manuscript inadvertency on Villa-Lobos' part. And, yes, I have heard the story that, in deference to the dedication of this piece being "to the Brazillian Indian", that the shock of this delivery is supposed to be representative of being shot in the chest with an Indian's arrow, whether literally or figuratively.

Well, suddenly infusing the very last chord with this extra-musical pictorial allusion thrown in at the end may not entirely undo its role as receptor to the the contrapuntal structure, but as far as the rest of it goes, I can't wrap my mind around it. In fact it seems to me perverse and antithetical to what the piece has been driving towards, seems to belie that understanding. Apparently, there are many who feel as I do about it, because there are many more performers I've heard who play this last chord in accordance with the arc I have suggested than who play it as indicated. In fact, having just recently checked a lot of YouTubes ( and there are a lot- I don't claim to have seem all of them) I did not come across one that played it with the forte.


A. S.

Jul 3 2008, 11:44 am

This is the second time this week I have responded to a post with "Wow". The first time it was a reaction to a serious disturbance.
This time to a brilliant analysis.

I now understand the G.

Thank you JonLorPro!


Jul 5 2008, 12:38 am

I say it again: JLP is the man.

User avatar
Posts: 9490
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:37 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts, USA

Re: V-L prelude 4 - " -A Real Controversy" - thread from other forum)

Postby lagartija » Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:12 pm

Thank you for this analysis. :D I'm afraid that some of the explanation is beyond my current knowledge of theory, but I know that a few more readings of it will be helpful in getting the most out of it. You've put a lot of thought into your explanation. :merci:

I've always played the G in the chord at the end and it worked with my visualization of an homage to Amazonas. Having been there, the piece always evoked a certain scene which I once described here. The ending chord made sense to me even though I had no idea how a musical analysis would support that. Also, for me, that "arrow" people talk about was not the final chord (the arrow came at the climax of the animato section). The final chord was the discordant disturbance of the night when the body hit the forest floor. I don't play it forte, but do play it louder than what came just before.
When the sun shines, bask.
Classical Guitar forever!

Posts: 200
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2008 6:36 pm

Re: V-L prelude 4 - " -A Real Controversy" - thread from other forum)

Postby mainterm » Thu Oct 08, 2015 3:44 pm

Quite a lot of material there to work with in the analysis. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into this topic.

I am curious (to OP): what is the core aim of posting this again here? I certainly don't mean this question to imply it shouldn't be posted here, it just seems a bit unclear.

Are you really just curious what people think here? Perhaps so as to restart (ultimately resolve) the previous "controversial" discussion?

From my perspective, the piece is clearly in Eminor with an ABA' form, structural cadence to V (octave Bs) at the end of B section and final cadence on E.

The final chord works better with a G in base (in my view) simply because it is more interesting than an E. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with playing E there instead of G (if one wishes).

Polifemo de Oro

Re: V-L prelude 4 - " -A Real Controversy" - thread from other forum)

Postby Polifemo de Oro » Thu Oct 08, 2015 4:27 pm

Somebody has way too much time on their hands.

Posts: 522
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: V-L prelude 4 - " -A Real Controversy" - thread from other forum)

Postby stevel » Sun Nov 15, 2015 7:08 pm

These kind of questions are often unanswerable without direct primary source evidence.

We'd have to ask HVL.

Short of that, we need a recording (or preferably multiple recordings that agree) of Villa-Lobos playing the piece himself!

Short of that, we'd need information from someone who worked directly with him at a world premiere, a score HVL approved, or performance he approved, etc.

Original Manuscripts are primary sources, however, interpretation of them may not be.

As a grad student, I was tasked with comparing some versions of a Bach work. What I discovered was that Editors/Publishers are only as good as their musicological skills! One piece had a ledger line drawn clear across the page to save the trouble of re-writing it every time a note needed it - Bach just "added a staff line" in essence. But one Editor had created an "Urtext" edition and interpreted this mark as a Trill!

As we know, mis-prints are not uncommon in published music, and even editors with the best of intentions will be biased by their own experiences (and/or cost-cutting methods...).

I have the Eschig edition and it shows the "tie" mark from the low E in the penultimate measure . The use of this mark through the piece is inconsistent at best: the previous F# whole note has the same indication - in that context they appear not to be ties, but "l.v" marking (lesser vibrer, or "let vibrate"). m. 10 has the same mark, though it does not extend across the measure (but clearly ends "in mid air" - i.e. not tied to any other note).

However, the F and F# in measures 8 and 9 do not include this mark.

m. 25 is probably the clearest indication that these "ties" are actually l.v. marks instead.

Why the final F# has one - it's a repeat of the previous music is maybe clarified by the fact that the final F# also has the cautionary accidental...

The editor of this piece did not go over it with a fine tooth comb to check for internal inconsistencies/consistencies. If they had, m 8 and the third from last, and m. 9 and the penultimate measure should have been notated identically.

So, is this just sloppy engraving, or were these things that were in the original manuscript (or "authoritative" editions published prior to this version) that the publisher wanted to maintain assuming they were the composer's wishes?

1. Sloppy Engraving
2. Attempt to interpret the composer's wishes (assuming a lack of direct consultation).

In my own personal opinion, I'd say the "tie" from the penultimate measure's low E is not a tie at all, and an l.v. mark. Obviously, if the final note is a low G, than one could not let the E "tie across the bar", and of course, even it were intended to "sound across the bar" a true tie would have an E it was tied to, and the l.v. line would continue beyond the bar line - which pretty consistently doesn't happen.

Given that the (this) published edition contains inconsistencies, it is entirely possible the final notes are wrong (as much as any in the piece!).

But, it's not about "preference" becuase that is influenced by your experiences. Any "classical" or "classically trained" guitarist not familiar with 20th century musical innovations might immediately hear this as the "wrong" chord becuase they've been conditioned to expect the Tonic chord at the end of the piece.

It's obviously not "I like..." as that's completely subjective.

IOW, it's hard to get an *objective* view on things like this, and many subjective views obscure the composer's intentions a lot of times.

We could look through ALL of HVL's output and see how likely he was to compose in a Tonal or largely Tonal style, and in any pieces with an established key center there was an ending on something other than the Tonic chord. Or, would could see if there was a general tendency for certain types of pieces or certain periods in his output where such things happened.

But I know, as a composer myself, I will simply put in something just because I like it. It's the 21st century. In fact, given the number of disagreements I see online, I often do things just to mess with potential argumentative later (as if anyone will ever see my music!).

IOW, A G6 chord at the end is well within the realm of possibilities for a composer working in that era.

Here again, is a personal observation:

VL seems to have done like many composers from the late Romantic period onward, and that is to accept a Major (especially) or minor tonic triad with an added 6 as a stable final chord (not unlike jazz).

The Em etude ends with a nice "picardy" Tonic Major, but with the added 6th. That seems to be no mistake and makes it clear th VL was both aware of this trend and used it intentionally.

The endings of the 4th and 5th preludes *could be seen* (yes, that's interpretive) as an extension of this idea where, a "rooted chord" is heard (such as an Em or D) is "added to" with a "new" chord that doesn't significantly change the harmonic aspects. In the case of the former, an Em7 becomes an Em7, and a D becomes a D6.

My point being that VL may have himself heard (again, supposition on my part) and assumed we would or expected us to hear these "new" chords not as "new" chords but merely "re-voicings" of an existing harmony.

Therefore the "Lowest note" of G or B doesn't affect these sonorities in the way we would usually perceive in isolation. Historically the duality between Am7 and C6 had been pointed out way back in the early 1700s by Rameau. It's interesting here that the chords in question (Em7 or G6 and D or Bm) share that duality, especially in "overlap" (where one sounds and "morphs into" the other).

IOW, discrediting as a "Mistake" or "typo" is very one-sided. Yes, the engraving is pretty sloppy, but the possibility these are the composer's intentions are pretty good.

So without the direct sources we're left to building as much "circumstantial evidence" as possible - but outright dismissal of evidence without consideration of all the facts is useless in discovering the truth.


User avatar
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:39 am
Location: West Cornwall, England UK

Re: V-L prelude 4 - " -A Real Controversy" - thread from other forum)

Postby OSJ » Thu Jan 28, 2016 2:14 pm

For some reason it's not possible to post a new topic here at the moment, I tried several browsers...

Anyway, I can't understand why on earth this should be in any way "controversial". Although there are frequently 'typos' in editions of HVL, Tarrega at al, there is no reason here at all to suspect that the final chord with a G in the bass might be 'wrong'. Frankly, this is all a lot of hot air.

1. Ending the piece on an E Minor with an E in the bass, as someone suggested, would not sound right at all, because you have already played an E Minor 7th with an E in the bass at the end of the previous bar, in harmonics. It would not work.

2. The chord G-D-E-G-B can be called "G Major", but actually it has an E in it, and is a G Minor 6th. The same chord could equally be called "E minor with a G in the bass."

3. This is why the chord works so effectively, because it is sounding neither wholly E Minor, or wholly G Major, it is between the two.

4. There is no grounds at all for thinking the final chord might be wrong, so why bother with it?

5. The only optional thing about that last measure is whether it really works to play that last chord forte, as indicated in the score. There is "loud" and there is "loud", it is open to interpretation. A lot of players will probably interpret that forte as just a bit louder than what came before, but not really "loud". Some might even play it very quietly. It will still work. The last chord is G-D-E-G-B and that's what it is.

Posts: 636
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:10 pm

Re: V-L prelude 4 - " -A Real Controversy" - thread from other forum)

Postby ronjazz » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:34 pm

Cool. I like the G, and I play that final chord "tambour", with the thumb. It's not that loud, but it had a nice attack and drama.
Lester Devoe Flamenco Negra
Lester Devoe Flamenco Blanca
Aparicio Flamenco Blanca with RMC pickup
Bartolex 7-string with RMC pickup
Giannini 7-string with Shadow pickup
Sal Pace 7-string archtop

User avatar
Denian Arcoleo
Posts: 5882
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:39 pm
Location: Somerset, England

Re: V-L prelude 4 - " -A Real Controversy" - thread from other forum)

Postby Denian Arcoleo » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:45 pm

Without in any way wishing to be flippant, why shouldn't it be a G? I like the G, sounds more colourful and less hackneyed to my ear. Besides, it's an emin7 in 1st inversion, not exactly a revolutionary chord.

Return to “Analysis of Classical Guitar Works”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot] and 4 guests